Undefeated former Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez authored a career-defining victory by dropping WBC Super Featherweight champion two times before a brutal stoppage in Round 10
LAS VEGAS (February 20, 2021) — The highly-anticipated matchup of WBC Super Featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt and former Featherweight champion Oscar Valdez had been in the works all through 2020. The two Mexican warriors finally made it to Top Rank’s Bubble inside the MGM Grand Conference Center with only a first round bell separating them.
Much of the analysis prior to the fight made it as if the smaller fighter, Valdez, would be the hunted on fight night. He did spend large portions of the night backing up, but he fought beautifully while doing so. So much so that seized control of the bout from the first bell.
Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) set his pace while the taller champion seemed to struggle to get into the right gear to attack. After three rounds of steady scoring, and landing telling shots with his left hook, the former Featherweight champion hurt Berchelt (37-2, 33 KOs) badly. Before the end of the frame he earned an expected two-point round after referee Russell Mora halted the action for a technical knockdown. The ropes kept the champion upright after taking a clean power punch from Valdez.
Valdez’ big fourth round set the stage for an eventual upset. Berchelt hit the canvas in Round 9, and then was knocked totally unconscious in Round 10 after lunging forward into a left hook he never saw. Valdez landed his final left hook just a split-second before the bell.
While the medical personnel attended to Berchelt, just a few feet away the new WBC Super Featherweight champion celebrated with his corner. The career-best performance improved Valdez to 29-0 with his 23rd knockout.
The challenger seized control of the early rounds, boxing sharply and staying on the move from distance – against the stalking Berchelt with his 5.5-inch reach advantage.
The champion didn’t pick up on Valdez’ most lethal weapon, and the fourth round a looping left hook to the temple had Berchelt hurt badly. The champion staggered away after being separated by the referee. Valdez saw it and moved in to capitalize on the opportunity. Somehow Berchelt stayed on his feet, after a full-on assault from Valdez, but the bout was stopped after a punch knocked the champion several steps back into the ropes. The ref started a 10-count as the result of a technical knockdown.
The challenger rocked Berchelt early in Round 5 with another punishing left hook. The champion swayed side-to-side. But the action resumed. The champion gradually recovered, on-the-fly, and steadily marched towards Valdez. Valdez looked to slide around to his left to land another left hook.
Berchelt was on better legs in Round 6. The champion fought to get back into the fight and bounced forward with a renewed energy. Valdez connected with a flush left hook that Berchelt took well on the right side of his chin.
Berchelt attacked fiercely to open Round 7. Valdez remained poised and circled around the ring. Berchelt chased and flurried when near – a straight right rocked Valdez near a corner. Valdez took a stand at the end of the round, and threw a series of big hooks to Berchelt’s head.
Valdez operated from outside, again, in Round 8. He switched to southpaw and set up a booming right hook to the head. The challenger finished the round back in his orthodox stance, but the change-up was highly successful.
The champion opened the next round pressing Valdez, but the challenger operated off his back-foot setting up left hooks off of his jab. Just before the final minute Valdez stepped forward with a fierce flurry with a right uppercut as the key punch. He dropped the champion again. Berchelt beat the count and moments later, before the round ended, Valdez lined the champion up for a big right hand.
The challenger edged forward in the 10th round. A foot feint set up an explosive flurry. Berchelt sustained the punishment. Valdez went back to circling to set up more punishing blows. Just before the bell Valdez exploded with a finishing punch – a final left hook – on Berchelt that left the champion face-down completely motionless. The champion lunged forward towards Valdez, knowing that he needed meaningful rallies to set up a big moment retain his title.
Face-down on the canvas motionless, Berchelt was turned over to be attended to by the medical personnel. After a few moments Berchelt began communicating with the ringside physician. Berchelt sat up within 5-7 minutes, and soon after he received help up from the canvas and onto a stool. As he started interacting with his team and responding to the doctor, Valdez made it over to him to exchange a few words of gratitude, and encouragement, after a short embrace.
The defeat was Berchelt’s second of his career, and both losses ended with knockouts. The last one was a first round knockout defeat to Luis Eduardo Florez in March of 2014.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images